Madikwe Game Reserve

Madikwe Game Reserve Location

Madikwe Game ReserveMadikwe Game Reserve is located in the north-western corner of the North-West Province of South Africa, bordering Botswana and the Limpopo Province to the north and the Dwarsberg Mountains to the south.

The Dwarsberg range of hills forms the southern boundary of the reserve, the border of the neighbouring Botswana the northern boundary and the main Zeerust-Gaborone road the western boundary of the reserve.  The Marico River, the only perennial river in the reserve, runs along the eastern boundary.

It takes about four hours by car to reach Madikwe from the Gauteng metropolitan area, or 45 minutes by aircraft (two air strips). It is close enough to Gaborone, capital of Botswana, for visitors to the park to visit the market at Gaborone.

Click HERE for a map to show location.

It is the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa, covering an area of  680 km² by itself, and 750 km² (30,352 acre (75,000 ha)), including the now incorporated privately owned land.

Topography of Madikwe Game Reserve

A special feature of Madikwe lies in its unique location, a transition zone on the edges of the Kalahari, where a number of rare species occur naturally, and the bushveld. The terrain is mainly open grasslands and bushveld plains (savannah), interspersed with rocky outcrops and single mountains or rocky hills, which are actually enormous volcanic intrusions, known as “inselbergs”. It is dissected by a rugged, low mountain ridge, known as the “Rant van Tweedepoort”. Except for the Marico river in the east of the park, water resources are scarce and several dams had to be built. The area is malaria free.

Madikwe Game Reserve Game viewing

Madikwe Game ReserveA special feature of Madikwe lies in its unique location, a transition zone between the Kalahari thornveld and bushveld. Due to this a number of rare species occur naturally. Madikwe has been regarded as one of the better conservation areas in Africa, offering as much as 60 mammal species. These include the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, both white and black rhino) as well as the “Super Seven”, when cheetah and African wild dog are included.
The visitor will also enjoy and abundance of sable, eland, gemsbok, giraffe and large herds of plains game, as well as plenty of birds. For a complete list of all the mammals in the reserve, click HERE.

A special note on the endangered African wild dog (also known as “Cape hunting dogs” or “painted dogs” due to their tri-coloured (black, white and tan) abstract coat). They are a speciality of the area. These carnivores are Africa’s most formidable hunters (better than lions and hyenas) and their social system is fascinating. Sighting of these dogs are always a very special experience.

Birding at Madikwe Game Reserve

Madikwe Game ReserveBeing a transition zone between the Kalahari thornveld and bushveld ecological regions of Southern Africa, an interesting variety of birds, in fact over 350 species, has been recorded at Madikwe including many interesting raptors.

Madikwe Game Reserve Accommodation

Madikwe Game ReserveA wide variety of accommodation options is available, but all very luxurious and the service of the best you can get. Your options vary from intimate safari lodges which can accommodate only a few guests, to bigger ones and even a few big ones where 60 – 200 people can stay. Some cater for families (with special activities for children) as well and some have other facilities like wellness centres and gymnasiums, conference facilities and internet available.  You could even be looking for a wedding venue and some cater for that as well!

Madikwe Game Reserve Seasons

Staying at a Madikwe safari lodge in the game reserve, the seasons should be taken into account:

Summer:  October to April. Daytime temperatures are hot and humid with an average of 88°F (31°C).
This is also the rainy season, with the highest rainfall expected between November and February. Winter:  The winter months of May to September are dry and cold with evening temperatures as low as 35.5°F (2°C) and only 72°F (22°C) in the daytime.

History of Madikwe Game Reserve

Madikwe Game ReserveThe area has never been good enough for farming and the best possible utilization was to turn it into a game reserve, which happened in 1991. It has the distinction of being one of the few game reserves in the world to be proclaimed purely on the grounds of being the most appropriate and sustainable land use for an area.. Madikwe is run as a three-way partnership between the state, local communities and the private sector. This partnership is of benefit to all parties involved. Conservation objectives are met, the private sector generates profits, jobs and businesses are created, communities are developed and valuable foreign exchange is brought into the country. Therefore Madikwe should not be viewed solely as a protected area or tourism destination; in fact, the park acts as a major social and economic core and engine around which the development of the entire region can be based.

Madikwe and Pilanesberg National Park

A conservation corridor, “Heritage Park”, is in the process of being created between Madikwe and Pilanesberg National Park, which is not far away. This will be to the benefit of the wild animals and ensure a free migration of animals between these two parks. The entire reserve has been enclosed in a 150 kilometers perimeter fence that has been electrified to keep the wild animals inside.

“Operation Phoenix” at Madikwe

Between 1992 and 1997 a huge stocking of animals took place, known as  “Operation Phoenix”. Today some 12,000 animals live in the reserve – 66 large mammal species, which include the Big Five, as well cheetah and African wild dog (expanding the “Big Five” to the “Super Seven”), thick skin mammals and a wide variety of antelopes. For more detail on “Operation Phoenix”, click HERE. For a complete list of all the mammals found in Madikwe, click HERE.

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